AMHERST, Mass. – The Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will celebrate its 100th birthday with a weekend of activities Oct. 5-6 concluding with a Centennial Gala at the Student Union Ballroom, Saturday, Oct. 6 from 6-9 p.m. Gov. Charlie Baker has marked the event by declaring Oct. 6 to be Stockbridge School of Agriculture Day in the Commonwealth.
In 1918, the Massachusetts Legislature officially established a “two-year course in practical agriculture” at the Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst and named it after the college’s first professor and later college president Levi Stockbridge of Hadley. Stockbridge also served as a state legislator and local official.
The celebration of that event begins with a reception at Old Chapel on Friday, Oct. 5 from 6-9 p.m. where UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and Wesley R. Autio, director of the Stockbridge School, will welcome friends, alumni, faculty, staff and students. The reception will feature historical exhibits, food, refreshments and music.
Autio said, “Stockbridge has always had the most close-knit alumni on our campus. As we celebrate 100 years of success, it is my belief that our students, staff, faculty and alumni will continue to maintain an equally close connection to both our storied past and bright future.”
Beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, there will be bus tours of the Agricultural Learning Center on North Pleasant Street in Amherst, the Cold Spring Orchard Research and Education Center in Belchertown, the Hadley Farm, the Joseph Troll Turf Research Center in South Deerfield and the Levi Stockbridge Homestead in North Hadley. The tours will be followed by lunch in the John W. Olver Design Building Atrium from
12:30 to 2 p.m.
Afternoon events from 2-4 p.m. include a campus tree walk with alumnus Michael Dirr and tours of the new CNS Greenhouses, the Durfee Conservatory, the Olver Design Building and the Alpha Tau Gamma fraternity house.
The gala dinner in the Student Union Ballroom from 6-9 p.m. features farm-to-table meals from ingredients provided by numerous Stockbridge alumni and the Student Farming Enterprise.
The Stockbridge School of Agriculture has a long and rich history. It grew out of the very beginnings of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, now the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the state’s land grant college formed in 1863. It hired its first professor of agriculture, Levi Stockbridge, and enrolled its first students in 1867. Twenty-seven individuals graduated in 1871 as the first class of agriculture students from what was then called Mass Aggie.
In the early years of Mass Aggie, a variety of bachelor of science degrees developed, including pomology, olericulture, floriculture and agronomy. The arboriculture degree was added in 1893 and was the first of its kind in the United States. Landscape horticulture and turfgrass management were also early B.S. offerings of the Massachusetts Agricultural College.
Today, the Stockbridge School offers six associate of science degrees, four bachelor of science degrees, and graduate education at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels to highly motivated individuals. It is unique in that all Stockbridge students have close student-faculty relationships and the approximately 10,000 Stockbridge alumni form cohesive networks in the farming and green industries.